We have found an alternative and likely easier, method of noise reduction and mic boost. Follow our tutorial on creating a real-time noise reduction program via EQ APO and RNNoise. This new method works across all operating systems and hardware.
User "yusareba" on our Discord sent us an interesting light-weight program that may be the easiest way yet to improve your mic quality! Light Host is the most bare-bones VST host we've come across. Combined with the free Reaper VST you can do a lot without a big memory footprint!
This tutorial will cover setup, noise reduction, and mic boost.
Step 1: Programs You'll Need
You'll need three programs for this to work. Light Host, Virtual Audio Cable, and Reaper VST (ReaPlugs). Both Light Host and Reaplugs have a 32 bit and 64 bit version. If you don't know what your PC is, here's how to find out.
- In your search box, type system information and select the System Information icon.
- You should see x64 or x32 under system type, see below
1: Download & install ReaPlugs:
Be sure to download the VST and not the Reaper program!
2: Download & install Light Host
3: Download & install Virtual Audio Cable
Step 2: Set up Reafir in Light Host
Open Light host by double-clicking the .exe in the directory you unzipped it.
If all has gone well you should have the Light Host icon on the bottom right. It looks like this:
Left-click the icon and select Edit Plugins.
At the bottom of this screen is an "Options" button. Click it and select Scan for New or Updated VST Plugins.
Scan the directory you installed the Reaper VST and you should now see a list of various plugins. Close that window.
Left-click the Light Host icon again and you should now see "Cockos" in the Available plugins menu. Select "Reafir_standalone (VST)."
If you have done it correctly, you'll now see reafir in the "Active Plugins" list in the Light Host menu.
Step 3: Setup Virtual Cable
This sounds scarier than it is. In simple terms, Light Host needs somewhere to send your mic audio. We're going to make Virtual Cable be this new "microphone."
Once again open Light Host by left-clicking the icon and select "Preferences." Make sure the input is set to the mic you want to use, e.g. Realtek Microphone or Antlion USB, etc.
For the output select VB-Audio Virtual Cable
If you get this error:
Go to your sound settings for both the mic and the virtual cable and make sure their sample rates are set to the same number (usually 16 bit, 48khz).
Now right click on your speaker icon and select "Sounds", and move to the recording tab. In this list you should see the VB-Audio Virtual Cable again. Right click it and set it to both the default and default communication device.
Your VB cable icon will likely look different from mine.
Step 4: Remove Background Noise
Left-click on Light Host and select the new reafir_standalone plugin and click edit. You should see this window.
In the top left is a "Mode" drop down. Select "Subtract."
With the room as quiet as possible and the mic on, click on the "Automatically build noise profile button" - let it run for a couple of seconds and then click it again to turn it off. You should end up with a graph at the bottom that looks something vaguely like this:
Step 5: Test and Boost
Listen to a recording of what the mic sounds like now. You can use any recording software, or even "listen to device," but we recommend Audacity.
If it sounds good, continue to step 5. If the mic is too quiet, adjust the "output gain" slider on the right up in increments of 3 dB. You can type a value at the bottom of the slider as well.
Be sure you have either your default device selected OR the VB-Audio Virtual Cable we set up before. Do NOT record with the microphone device directly. You can tell if its working properly by seeing if increasing the boost to maximum makes it very, very, loud.
Test each step upwards. As you boost the volume up you may bring back more background noise. If you are using the slider, going about ~10db will begin to introduce noise reduction artifacts (You can boost it to +30dB to hear what they sound like). Try to keep the boost after noise reduction as minimal as possible. If you boost in windows or in a step before noise reduction, repeat the "build noise profile" step if you begin hearing this background noise. That said, you want to minimize the amount of noise reduction you do because, along with eliminating noise, it is also eliminating parts of your natural voice.
Step 6: Run on Startup
The ONE flaw I found with Light Host is that it does NOT automatically run on system start. So you'll have to set it up manually. For Windows PC this is done as follows:
- Type Light Host into the windows search.
- Right-click the app, (you may have to select More), and then select Open file location. This opens the location where the app is saved.
- Right-click the Light Host application and create a shortcut.
- With the file location open, press the Windows logo key + R, type shell:startup, then select OK. This opens the Startup folder.
- Move the shortcut to the app from the file location to the Startup folder.
Restart your machine and make sure Light Host is running! If you get a warning message simply set it to skip the warning next time.
You're done! You can now enjoy better, louder, mic audio!
That isn't all Light Host and Reaplugs can do! You can also add an equalizer, noise gate, and compressor to the chain. We'll cover all that and more in a future tutorial!
Software can do a lot to help your microphone, but quality starts at the source. That's why we make the ModMic, the world's best microphone that can attach to any pair of headphones. Check it out!